Elderly parent being taken advantage of and not sure what to do?

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I have on brother that has been taking advantage of our parents for years. He is in his 40's, never worked, and spends most of his time smoking pot and playing video games on our parents dime. Unfortunately, the last few years my father started suffering losing his memory and sometimes not always clear (I think the Dr. said early stages of dementia) and unknown to us at the time our brother took out credit cards in dads name. Like I said its always been a struggle in the family wanting him to not leech off our parents who should not be working at 80 and 90 years old to support their 40 yr old kid. But Mom always defended him and dad turned the other way.

Our dad recently passed away at 94 yrs old. He took care of the finances or "thought" our brother did. Now we are trying to help mom since she never knew what bills to pay because dad always did it. However we have uncovered a HUGE mess. They are behind on all their bills. And they have about $40K in credit card debt (mostly accrued in the last 2-3 yrs, we suspect our brother took these out without our parents knowledge). Mom didn't seem to understand where the credit cards came from, but when we brought up having them looked into for Fraud she quickly shot us down. We also found a NEW card with video game purchases on it of about $1000 that was done while our dad was dying in the hospital. Its all very upsetting. But our mom defends our brother and will not put any responsibility on him saying she gave him permission (when we all know she didn't because she was surprised as the rest of us at the new console after returning from the hospital).

Dads retirement was their main income, and now with so much debt, and no income, mom is probably going to lose the house. But we cannot convince her to cut ties with our brother and move in with one of us.

We just don't know what to do and feel helpless after our father just passed and our mother is about to be broke and homeless thanks to our brother.

But we don't feel like APS will do anything because she will take all the blame and insist he never did anything wrong. :0/

Any advice??

We (me and my other siblings) do not have any kind of POA and are still looking for the will to see if dad had any of us listed to be able to control the estate. But the outlook is not good.

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I think the most cogent thing that has been said here is that this mess is either currently your mother's choice AND the consequence of your mother's and father's choices over a long period of time. It is not your legal or moral responsibility to rescue her from those choices. I understand that you love her and want to help and protect her but I don't think that's possible unless and until SHE wants you to do so. She and your father enabled your brother and I strongly caution you against enabling her to continue to do so. She will, you know. This is a pathology that is way too late to address. Your Mom is not about to give make you POA and EVEN IF SHE DID she would continue to be legally able to act for herself and could either undo everything you tried to do and/or let your brother continue to act as he has/does. I caution you: I think many of the assertions here about what the law will do are totally unrealistic but if you persist in wanting to take over Mom's financial affairs DO talk to a lawyer WHO SPECIALIZES IN ELDER ABUSE -- to learn what you might be able to do AND AT WHAT COST. Insist he or she be specific and detailed about what could happen. Not only cost in dollars -- for example, seeking guardianship could cost upwards of $10K or more depending on your state and the legal fees charged -- but substantial costs to you and your husband and siblings in time and energy, all of which will be stressful and very difficult emotionally. And, UNLESS A PHYSICIAN WILL CERTIFY THAT YOUR MOTHER HAS DEMENTIA no court is going to find her incompetent and award guardianship to you or anybody else. You and I and every other reader here, plus the judge!, may think your mother is not making good decisions for herself but that is different than proving that she is intellectually UNABLE to make good decisions. As long as she does not have dementia she is legally entitled to do — and continue to do — what she wants with her life and her money. And what she wants is to enable and indulge your brother.

PLEASE do not make yourself/yourselves responsible for their debts! It's all well and good to cancel credit cards and have bills come to your address — which you have no legal authority to do without POA or guardianship — but what are you going to pay them with? YOU HAVE NO LEGAL OR MORAL OBLIGATION TO PAY MOM'S BILLS - DON'T DO IT! The credit card companies can take care of themselves, I assure you.

The creditors will take what they have to take in order to satisfy debt and "losing the house" may be the only way you are going to get your mother out of it. I know that sounds harsh but persuading her to sell — especially when she knows none of the rest of you will take care of the son that she's been taking care of — will be impossible. If there is anything left after their debts are settled — which may be unlikely — it will be your mother's property and she is entitled to do with it as she chooses, however bad a choice that may be.

This is a particularly difficult time for you and your siblings because of the recent loss of your father. Making major — and life changing — decisions is never a good idea at such a time. And trying to change your mother's behaviors of a life time would definitely be life changing! I strongly suggest letting your Mom and brother figure this out between them. I hate for her, at her age and after losing her husband, that she will have these difficulties and anxieties, but I don't think at this late date that you can insulate her from the consequences of her choices. I know you are angry with your brother but he did not live as he has lived without your mother wanting it also. You've made it clear to her that she will not be homeless, that she can make her home with one of you. That is very likely all you can do and she is very lucky that she has you and your other siblings as a "safety net"; don't let the problem brother become a part of that package! And I hope you stay in touch with us!
Start with cancelling the credit cards. Put fraud alerts on their credit reports, order the complimentary copies once you get the acknowledgment that the fraud alert has been placed. I think you might be in for some more unpleasant surprises.

In helping your mother with the various bills, try to get them mailed to your address instead of hers, so at least you can keep track of them.

Initiate contact with the mortgage lender to see if the mortgage can be restructured to meet your mother's SS amounts.

There's more that could be done but your mother's attitude toward your brother would block those attempts.

But at least if you cancel all the credit cards (and any more you find when you get the fraud alert reports), you can stop some of the financial hemorrhaging.

Check with the county clerk to determine if wills have to be filed. If you can't find one, then any assets that might exist (and it doesn't sound as though there are any), would be handled in accordance with your state's rules for someone who dies intestate.

Sometimes I wonder why we try to fix others' messes. Your mother seems to know what's going on. Your brother may well be addicted to video games, which can be pretty serious. It's classic enabling...and then the responsible members of the family get stuck with the mess. I wish I had better advice than "take a deep breath and wade in slowly and without anger or judgement", but that's probably the best course of action. Look into all the legalities, see if you can get your brother to agree to counselling (probably not, he has to want to help himself, and it doesn't sound like he's ready to do that), and try to understand why your mother is taking such a soft line with him. It's not all about the money, it's more about maintaining your mother's quality of life going forward. Conflict and legal action can be enormously stressful, and you have to take that into consideration as well.
You need to call Adult Protective Services. Don't assume what they will or will not do. It's your legal obligation to report this matter to them. Then IF they do nothing, you can at least say you did what you were supposed to do but sitting around pondering whether they will or will not do anything is negligent.
LorrieB is right. Just because what your brother is doing is morally wrong doesn't mean it's illegal. It's like a parent choosing to not discipline a child. If this has been going on forever, its her money and her choice. You didn't say your mom has dementia. If she allows this behavior there's nothing you can do. Unless you have POA, you have no legal authority to cancel credit cards. Unfortunately, your mother will have to reap what she sows, and so will your brother once your mom passes. The same thing happened in our family. One family member bled our mom dry his entire life. Now, she needs care and has no money. It was her choice to give him everything she had, and now he has left the rest of the family to figure out how to pay for her care. I'm sorry this is not the answer you wanted, but it's reality. If your father had a will, it should be recorded at the courthouse. Good luck with everything.
Power of attorney to one of the responsible children or a joint between several. This would take the decisions off her and so she shouldn't feel responsible if the squatter son is cut off and ousted by his siblings.
My Mamma was abused and robbed by heroin addicted grandaughter and her boyfriend and friends squatting in her house right up to her stroke in late September 2015. She finally agreed to help from my son by asking him to be her financial power of attorney so he could make the decisions for her. Sadly she had a stroke a few days after she signed the papers. Seems the granddaughter had locked her in the garage for hours ignoring her cries for help. She told me this over the phone before the stroke. Told my son when he came to visit her day before her stroke. Adult protective services were no help whatsoever for months and months. And since she can't speak following stroke we cannot press charges against the granddaughter. It is only hearsay.
So warn your Mom of this terrible scenario. Try to convince her to let two or more siblings acts as her financial and medical power of attorney. State laws will not let any money be taken from her except in her care and maintenance of her property.
I hope someone will take over your mom's bills. Someone needs to cut the son off at the source.
If you need someone to manage the day to day bills for your mother, the people who do this professionally are called "daily money managers." They have a professional association where you can search for one by location.
same thing here with hub's aunt and uncle; she called me practically crying yesterday; somehow(?) her/them? grandson got another car - I made the mistake of saying "new"; well, no, of course, not "brand new", but new to him, duh, but that was her way of wiggling out of it, but what happened? somehow, for some reason? he got stopped - well, duh, what happened with the last one and the one before, and so on and on...had an old warrant that we knew about, so why did nobody else, just got out of jail in October, wondered then why they didn't just keep him, but they didn't care then, but taken back now, "new" car impounded, not sure if wouldn't let him out on bail or she would have done it, but sees the judge this morning at 10, see what happens, just waiting to see if hear from her but one concern, her phones all seem to be going out, just wonder if she even has one to call about anything
In addition to all of these very good suggestions, you may very well want to go for guardianship and take over everything for your mom. However, I must ask you:

Why was this problem never addressed before now?

I feel bad for both of your parents being taken advantage of according to the situation described here. This is why it's time someone step up and gain guardianship to stop the ongoing problem that would never otherwise stop. If you can get guardianship, you'll have all power over not just finances, but also medical records and all other legal documents and such. If the bank account was a joint bank account with this brother's name on it, guardianship will actually give you the power to go to the bank and take over that account but you must ask the bank how to go about this by finding out what you must do to achieve this. It may be much easier to go through the court and be appointed guardian by the court who can help you through the process. Unless you're an attorney yourself, you're going to need one!

After obtaining guardianship, definitely kickthe deadbeat to the curb along with all of his stuff. Next, change the locks and make sure he doesn't get back in. Get a restraining order on him after kicking him out and keep him away from your mom and the rest of you. Taking the steps will force him to move on and maybe even get a job! It sounds like your parents have been enabling him far too long now. As suggested here, definitely check for a well from your dad. If this deadbeat as mentioned, you may want to contest the well through your lawyer (unless you happen to be a lawyer yourself). You may be able to overturn the well if your dad was incompetent when he did that well. All you have to do is mention "mental decline" which will definitely get some attention. I really like the idea about canceling all credit cards. When taking over your mom's finances, set up online bill pay so her bills can come out automatically, but set them up from your end and let no one have access to that bank account. In other words, don't give no one any banking information! If anyone you collaborate with pushes the issue, hang up or walk out. The idea is to keep anyone else from financially draining your mom dry. At first I assumed she was ranting, but now I see she pays a mortgage. I like the idea of seeing if you can restructure the mortgage, but if this can't happen for whatever reason, you can move her out of the house and leave him behind for the sheriff to evict 😂 that way, she won't need to worry about being homeless just for being broke because of that deadbeat who won't contribute to the household. I'm actually very shocked this has gone on for so long because it should've been stopped long ago. Someone becomes a senior when they reach a certain age, and I think someone should have stepped in long ago and intervened to stop the problem. I would be very interested to know why this was never done. I mean, think of all the money that was lost to this deadbeat over the years and you'd definitely be shocked. You know, if you were to take this deadbeat to court and they found out he wasn't working all along, they could court order him to get a job and start repaying everything he wrongfully took, because they the court can garnish his wages and even lien his bank account and even his car (or other assets) if they choose. On top of that, they can fine him heavily for elder abuse because what you're describing is a form of elder abuse. You may want to check to see if he may have been getting some form of federal benefits. If so, you may want to call the Social Security office and report him for fraud if Hannah took any benefits he wasn't entitled to. You can have any benefits stop just by reporting to the Social Security office and the human services. If he is getting any form of benefits and not using them for the intended purpose of self support, it's definitely a huge red flag right there, and it should be stopped. If someone gets benefits and leeches off of someone else, that's fraud. It's one thing for you to be pulling your own weight and someone periodically helps you along, but it's another thing to take advantage of someone's generosity, (especially at your parents' age). this is definitely a form of fraud against your mom, which is why I strongly suggested guardianship, it gives you power and authority over all aspects of that person's life. It also gives you power and authority and complete control over their finances and other aspects, you may as well say all aspects of their life. You can even make medical decisions for them as well as other major decisions. I strongly recommend getting a lawyer and going for court ordered guardianship ASAP

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